DID YOU READ

Richard Linklater and Jack Black talk “Bernie” and a “School of Rock” sequel

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By Jennifer Vineyard

A small-town funeral director kills the wealthiest widow around, stuffs her body in a freezer, and pretends she’s still alive so he can keep spending her money. Not only is that the plot of Richard Linklater’s latest comedy “Bernie” starring Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine, but it’s also a true story: Bernie Tiede is currently serving a life sentence in Texas for the murder of Marjorie Nugent, for which he’ll be eligible for parole in 2027.

But more than just ripping a story from the headlines, Linklater created the film as a fiction/documentary hybrid, in which the townspeople themselves help tell the story.

“I always thought of it as a drama with these locals as a kind of an East Texas Greek chorus, the way [the Warren Beatty film] ‘Reds’ has witnesses, too,” Linklater told IFC. “Other films do that, but a lot of this was just gossip, so it’s to tell the story via the gossips. In fact, they are played by a lot of real people from the area — the hairdresser, a neighbor, somebody who traveled with them, people who attended the church with them — but not all of them knew Bernie. Some of them just knew about it.”

“That would be a cool DVD feature,” Black said. “This person did know, this person didn’t know. It could be a game.”

The gossips have a unique spin on the murder because in the town of Carthage, Texas, Bernie was so incredibly popular, while Marjorie inspired new levels of hate — so much so that even after people knew about the murder, nobody wanted to blame Bernie for the crime, forcing the district attorney (played by Matthew McConaughey) to seek a change of venue for the trial. Matthew’s mom Kay even makes a cameo, playing one of the gossips who confronts the D.A.

“Can you tell by looking at her?” Black asked. “I didn’t know it was her, but she is one of my favorites. It really runs in the blood in that family. And you know, she’s really keen on getting something going, the two of us. We’re talking about doing some kind of side project. I don’t know if it’s going to be a movie or a band or what, but it’s going to be something. She’s got it.”

Because Bernie sang at church and funeral services, Black has quite a few gospel numbers in the film. “This felt like a musical to some degree,” Linklater said. It whetted the singer/actor’s appetite to put out a soundtrack of the material (“because the songs are so great, and I love singing the gospel”) as well as getting together with Linklater for that much-discussed “School of Rock” sequel.

“It’s not like this one had anything to do with that one, because music is the only thing they share,” Black said, “but really, I’d love to work with Rick again on ‘SOR’ or whatever.” Linklater, who was present, nodded yes. “That would have been a very awkward pause if he didn’t say yes!” Black laughed.

But when could that happen? After all, Mike White had a screenplay for the project at one point, but that idea seemed to have fizzled out.

“Whenever Tenacious D did interviews, people would ask us, ‘When is the next album?’ And we would just say, ‘Definitely the summer of 2012,’ as a joke, because it was so far away,” Black said. “But now, it is happening, and in that relative time frame, despite it being a fictitious date” (since “Rize of the Fenix” hit shelves May 15). “But I don’t see a movie happening for this one. I could see Tenacious D in an animated web series, having another adventure, but the union would frown upon Jack Black — sorry to use myself in the third person — they would frown upon first, second, and third person versions of myself, and fourth, on film. But the web series wouldn’t be until 2013.”

“School of Rock,” he said, wouldn’t be until 2020, because his “natural cycle” of working with Linklater is every eight years. “So look for us in 2020!” Black laughed.

“I feel lucky that after eight, nine years, we actually got to do this one,” Linklater said.

Linklater said he’s on a similar nine-year cycle with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with whom he made the “Before Sunrise and “Before Sunset” films (and may still make a third in the series). “We’re calling it ‘More BS,'” he joked. “Or ‘Before Lunch.’ Nothing’s set it stone on that one yet, but it’s one of the least successful films ever made that spun sequels. How about ‘Before Breaking Dawn’?”

In the meantime, Linklater continues to shoot a few days a year with Hawke on a project alternately called “The 12 Year Project,” “Boyhood,” and “Growing Up,” in which the director chronicles a boy, played by Ellar Salmon, throughout his childhood (Hawke plays his father, and Patricia Arquette his mother). They’ve been shooting for ten years now, and Linklater estimates he’s got two more years left.

“That one is an intriguing process,” he said. “It’s a three day shoot, every year, at different times of the year. And we’re almost done.”

Chime in with your thoughts on this interview with Jack Black and Richard Linklater below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.